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MEISHAN                                      17

mother, the Chengs. As the two houses were then connected by
marriage, it was a double occasion for joy. The Chengs, however, were
a very rich family, belonging to the landed aristocracy, and had long

*ago prepared for this celebration, while Su's grandfather had not. The
son knew his father and had himself sent, along with the announce-
ment, the official cap and gown and the ceremonial hand tablet, together

^with an armchair and a beautiful teapot. The news arrived when the
grandfather was very drunk and was holding a large chunk of beef in
his hand. He saw the red button on the official cap peeping out from
the luggage bag and knew what it meant. Still under the influence of
liquor, he took the official message, read it aloud to his friends, and gaily
dumped the chunk of beef into the bag along with the announcement
and the cap and gown. Having called a village boy to carry the

Juggage, he rode on a donkey into town. It was the happiest moment

, of his life.. The people in the streets had heard the news and laughed
at the sight of the drunken old man on donkey-back with the curious
luggage following behind. The Cheng family thought it a disgrace; but
Su Tungpo says only the intelligent scholars appreciated its beautiful
simplicity. This grand old man was also a free-thinker. One day, in a
drunken fit, he went into the temple of a particular god and smashed

vthe idol into pieces. He had developed a special hostility towards this
god, who was very much feared by the populace of this district, or
more probably a special hostility toward its soothsayer, who extorted

winoney from the believers.

Su Tungpo did not inherit from his grandfather his capacity for
wine, but he did inherit his love for it, as we shall have occasion to see
later. The intellectual brilliance of this illiterate old man, which lay
dormant in his blood, was to blossom forth in all its power and glory
in his son's sons. That extra energy of mind and body, that bigness of
heart, and underneath it all the strong integrity of purpose were there
in the grandfather. The Su family rose from the land, as all other dis-
tinguished families rose, by the law of infinite variations and natural
selection. We have no indications of the mental qualites of Su Tungpo's
mother's family^ but a fortuitous combination of the blood of the Sus
and the Chengs somehow produced the literary genius.

Apart from this, there was no great influence of the grandfather over
the poet's literary life except the fact that his personal name was "Shii".
It was most embarrassing for a writer, for this word meant "preface",
and Su Tungpo, being a renowned scholar, had to write many prefaces.
As it would have been sacrilegious for him to use the word preface, he
called his prefaces forewords (yiri) throughout his works. This taboo
against mentioning one's parent's or grandparent's name was a very
ancient custom which sometimes produced embarrassing results. It* is

^particularly irritating when personal names of fathers happen to be